COLO - The first basketball games of the season are usually filled with plenty of missed shots, turnovers and some chaos.
The West Marshall and Colo-NESCO girls' basketball teams must not have gotten the memo Friday night as points were easy to come by during a competitive contest against two squads expecting to compete for titles in their respective conferences.
In the end, the Trojans hit enough shots and forced enough turnovers to keep the Royals at bay and walked away with a 68-55 victory on the road.
T-R PHOTO BY TROY HYDE
West Marshall sophomore Rachel Freland puts in two of her 21 points over two defenders from Colo-NESCO on Friday. The Trojans started the basketball season with a 68-55 victory in Colo.
"We figure we should win a lot of games if we score 68 points, but our defense was shaky at times tonight," West Marshall coach Fred Zeller said. "We forgot about their shooters at times, but played much smarter in the second half."
West Marshall got strong efforts from Jennifer Davis, Rachel Freland and McKenna Hotopp and started the season 1-0, but it was a much closer game than the final score would indicate.
Colo-NESCO jumped out to a 10-3 lead in the first quarter until Freland mounted her own individual comeback, scoring nine of the next 11 points. West Marshall closed the opening frame on a 17-3 run and stayed in front the rest of the way.
WEST MARSHALL (1-0) - Freland 6 7-8 21, Hotopp 4 3-3 11, Benson 2 1-1 5, Reyerson 4 0-0 8, Davis 10 3-8 23. Totals 26 14-21 68.
COLO-NESCO (0-1) - Farren 6 1-3 13, Dean 2 0-1 5, Anthony 3 0-3 9, Eley 5 1-4 16, C.Riese 5 2-6 12. Totals 21 5-12 55.
"We couldn't have started much worse than what we did," Zeller said. "We were really surprised about that too because we have some experienced players on this team."
The Trojans maintained an advantage in the second frame. Davis put in back-to-back buckets midway through the period to push the lead to nine.
Madison Eley kept the Royals (0-1) close with a pair of triples but another hoop by Davis along with a steal and layup from Hotopp gave the Trojans a 10-point lead at the break.
"We had chances, but we turned it over every time we were close to getting over the hump," Colo-NESCO coach Wayne Cafferty said. "We gave up too many easy baskets, too."
Like the first quarter, the Royals came out on fire in the first 1:30 of the third quarter. Shelby Anthony buried a 3-pointer and then sophomore point guard Shayla Dean added a putback and a trey to cut the Trojan advantage to just two points.
The Royals struggled to get any closer though as the Trojans always seemed to have an answer when things got tough. Caitlyn Riese kept the Royals within two a few points later, but Freland responded with six of the game's next eight points to push her team's advantage back to six.
Four straight points from the Trojans - two free throws from Davis and a Hotopp putback - gave West Marshall a comfortable eight-point cushion heading into the final quarter.
Hotopp and Freland each started the fourth frame by forcing a turnover at the defensive end and turning the mistake into points on the offensive end. Add to that another bucket by Davis and the Trojans were quickly up 14, which was the largest lead of the night.
"We turned the ball over 29 times tonight," Cafferty said. "We won't win many games turning it over 29 times. The effort was good though. We just have to take better care of the ball."
The Royals didn't quit despite the largest deficit. Madison Farren scored seven of her 13 points on three straight Colo-NESCO possessions to trim the margin to nine. Then Eley hit two more triples to get the Royals even closer at five, but then Davis and Freland went back to work for West Marshall.
Those two scored all but two of West Marshall's last 11 points in the final 3:24 to give the Trojans a 13-point win. Davis finished with 23 points, eight rebounds, five assists and five steals, while Freland added 21 points and five boards.
"Freland was the difference on the defensive end of the floor," Zeller said. "She stopped a lot of their runs. (Davis) stepped up big, too. When she gets the ball down low, she is just tough to stop."
Both teams were plagued by foul trouble to some key players, but that opened things up for others to log more minutes than expected. That could benefit both teams as the season progresses.
"We had some kids that had to play a lot more than usual tonight because of fouls," Zeller said. Our conditioning must be about right."
It was more of a disadvantage for Cafferty's squad as Dean was forced to the bench with some early whistles. She finished with five points and eight steals but the team struggled when she went to the bench.
"To me, she is one of the best point guards in the area," Cafferty said. "We she came off the floor there is no doubt we struggled. She needs to stay out of foul trouble and on the floor for us to play well."
The Royals were led by Eley's 16 points and 11 rebounds. She missed all but two games last season with a torn ACL. She was at about 60 percent this summer and is only at about 80 percent in game one, said Cafferty.
Riese ended up with 12 points, seven rebounds and three steals for the Royals, who will next play at North Tama on Tuesday, Nov. 27. Farren chipped in 13 points and eight rebounds.
Hotopp scored 11 points and had 12 boards for the Trojans, while freshman center Gabby Reyerson scored eight points off the bench in her first-ever varsity game.
West Marshall (1-0) will play at Iowa Falls-Alden on Tuesday. The Trojans and Royals will meet again in about three weeks.